WESTCHESTER, Ill. According to new research that will be presented on Saturday, June 5, at the 19th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, the majority of U.S. dental schools have not adequately prepared their graduates to screen for sleep disorders, which affect more than 70 million adults in the U.S.
Researchers from the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry surveyed each of the 58 U.S. dental schools to determine the average number of curriculum hours offered in dental sleep medicine (DSM). DSM focuses on the management of sleep-related breathing disorders, such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), with oral appliance therapy (OAT) and upper-airway surgery.
Forty-eight schools responded to the survey, indicating that dental students spend an average of 2.9 instruction hours during their four years of dental school studying sleep disorders.
According to lead author Michael Simmons, DMD, D. ABOP, part-time instructor at both UCLA and USC, sleep medicine is being introduced at the majority of U.S. dental schools, but the total hours taught are inadequate given the epidemic proportion of people with OSA.
More than 18 million Americans suffer from OSA. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of patients with OSA are undiagnosed and more go untreated. Untreated sleep apnea can raise a patients' risk for heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, among other health problems and premature death.
The survey asked which sleep topics were taught, which treatments were covered, and which departments were responsible for the teaching of dental sleep medicine.
Results show that classroom topics covered diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, sleep bruxism, snoring and upper-airway resistance syndrome, and treatments including oral appliance therapy, continuous positive airway pressure and surgery. Eight schools also discussed at-home sleep tests, w
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American Academy of Sleep Medicine